Sunday, April 19, 2015

2015 Cannes Check #2 - Nanni Moretti

The second installment of the Cannes 2015 Directors Series is about one of my favorite directors who also happens to be a great actor in most of his films and other directors films.

Nanni Moretti

I'm searching my brain archives trying to find which was the first Nanni Moretti film I saw and is useless as seems I know him since my love for cinema started a long time ago. So had to check his filmography and believe the first one was the 1977 Padre Padrone by the Taviani Brothers in which Moretti performs the role of Cesare. No matter if I'm right or not, truth is that the movie that comes to life when I think about him is his outstanding family drama La Stanza del Figlio (The Son's Room) that he directed and played the lead role.  But recent films like Il Caimano and Habemus Papam are also part of my memory Moretti's profile.

This will be the 16th time Nanni Moretti is in Cannes and yes, you can call him a Cannes regular as has come with films he directed, films he is acting and not directing, has been the main jury president as well as jury member, and has been honored with La Carrosse d'Or. As a matter of fact he came 8 times as a Director, 4 times as an actor, 2 times as member of the Jury and one time to receive an award. That is impressive and more when you add his visits to Venice and Berlin festivals where he has collected several honors. But perhaps two of his major professional honors are winning the Palme d'Or with La Stanza del Figlio in 2001 and the Best Director award in 1994 with Caro Diario.

Mia Madre represents the 7th time Moretti is In Competition for la Palme d'Or and if he wins his second Cannes top award, he will belong to the very selective small group of directors that have won twice the award. But what is incomprehensible for me is the reason why behind the film being released in Italy before the screening in Cannes and haven't been able to find a reason that satisfies my questioning; what I found is Thierry Fremaux joking about this fact and some claiming that the presence of this film in competition is not "bending the Cannes rules".  By the way, today's news claim that film has become "strong box office success" in the opening week-end in Italy, so by now there are many that have seen the film, sigh; also, most reviews in several languages tend to lean to the highly positive.

Born Giovanni Moretti in August 19, 1953 in Brunico, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy when his parents were on vacation. By 1970 he played in water-polo first division in Italy and in the junior National team and in 1973 suspended his sport life to do his first short films, Paté de bourgeois and La Sconfitta which he directed, wrote, acted, and produced. What follows is a very productive filmmaking career with 24 credits as a producer, 21 credits as a writer, 24 credits as a director and 20 credits as an actor.

Perhaps I'm more attracted to Moretti's dramas but I do recognize the power behind his more political films like Il Caimano, Aprile and/or Palombella Rossa -among many others; films that have helped to create a "new language" in Italian cinema. So I wouldn't be surprised if I highly enjoy his latest family drama Mia Madre for Moretti's directing style, the story (loosely autobiographical) and the always excellent performances by Margherita Buy. Could this film collect awards in Cannes this year? If juries remained the same (Liv Ullman gave Moretti his first Palme d'Or) I would have say yes; but juries change and we do not know yet who will be the jury members that co presidents Coen brothers will lead; so for me, is still uncertain but always a possibility. One thing I'm sure, Margherita Buy will be a strong contender for the Best Actress award and can't help but wonder how much Coen Brothers frequent working knowledge of John Turturro could promote him as Best Actor contender.

If you wish to read more about Nanni Moretti and the Cannes festival go to the fest Official Site here.  One of the most interesting articles available for free perhaps is "The Personal and the Political: The Cinema of Nanni Moretti" by Rosa Barotsi and Pierpaolo Antonello that you can read here in English.

Basic info about Mia Madre (My Mother)
Director: Nanni Moretti
Scriptwriters: Nanni Moretti, Francesco Piccolo, Valia Santella; story by Gaia Manzini and Chiara Valerio
Language: Italian and English
Runtime: 106 mins
Release: Italy on April 16, 2015
Production countries: Italy and France
Production Companies: Sacher Film (Nanni Moretti), Fandango (Domenico Procacci), Le Pacte, Rai Cinema, Arte France Cinema (Olivier Pere)
Distribution: 01 Distribution in Italy, Le Pacte in France, Kino Films in Japan, Films Distribution for International Sales

Cast: Margherita Buy, Nanni Moretti, John Turturro

Plot Summary
Margherita (Buy) is a director shooting a film about a group of factory workers who risk losing their jobs, but is also the daughter of a mother who is gravely ill (Giulia Lazzarini), the mother of a teenager who doesn’t want to focus on her studies (Beatrice Mancini), and the partner of a man she no longer loves (Enrico Iannello). She is also the sister of Giovanni (Moretti), with whom she shares her concerns and visits her mother’s bedside. The most serious stage of the illness coincides with the arrival on set of the guest star of the film, an American actor (Turturro) who can’t remember his lines and is pretentious and difficult. We follow Margherita through her angry outbursts between takes, visits of locations and press conferences, and feel the pain she’s holding back every step of the way, whilst seeing a Moretti who is less like the usual centered, practical and reassuring character we are used to seeing in the role of the brother.

Official Trailer (Italian)

Clip with John Turturo dancing

Film Stills

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